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Continued increases -- as much as 15 percent -- were made in nationwide coverage for vaccines specifically recommended for pre-teens, according to 2009 National Immunization Survey-Teen (NIS-Teen) estimates released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The survey of more than 20,000 teens aged 13-17 found that in 2009 there were increases in the percentage of teens in this age group who had received vaccines routinely recommended for 11- and 12-year-olds.
- For one dose of the tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap), coverage went up about 15 points to about 56 percent;
- For one dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine, coverage went up about 12 points to about 54 percent;
- For girls who received at least one dose of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, coverage increased 7 points to about 44 percent. However, for girls who received the recommended three doses of HPV vaccine, coverage was only about 27 percent (a 9 percent increase);
- For one dose of HPV vaccine, no differences were observed between racial/ethnic groups. However, coverage was higher among teens living in poverty compared with those living at or above the poverty level. For the recommended three doses of HPV vaccine, differences were observed between racial/ethnic groups, including significantly lower coverage for blacks and Hispanics compared to whites;
- There were no significant differences in coverage by racial/ethnic group or by poverty status for Tdap or meningococcal conjugate vaccine; and
- As in 2008, there was wide variation in adolescent vaccination coverage among state and local areas.
"This year's data are mixed," says Anne Schuchat, MD, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "We can see that more parents of adolescents are electing to protect their children from serious diseases such as pertussis, meningitis, and cervical cancer, but there is clear room for improvement in our system's ability to reach this age group."
"Pertussis outbreaks in several states and an increase in pertussis-related infant deaths in California highlight how important it is for pre-teens to receive the Tdap booster," Schuchat adds. "It is important for teens and adults to get a one-time dose of Tdap to protect themselves and those around them from whooping cough. Young infants are most vulnerable to serious complications from pertussis and can be infected by older siblings, parents or other caretakers."
The CDC encourages parents to talk with their child's healthcare provider to find out when to come in for recommended check-ups.
"Completing the three-dose HPV vaccine series is very important to ensure protection against cervical cancer. Visits for immunization can be a great opportunity to address other important preventive issues that all teens need," Schuchat says.
Although poverty was not a barrier to receiving any of the three adolescent vaccines, financial challenges could prevent some teens from getting vaccinated. Families who need help paying for vaccines should ask their health care provider about the Vaccines for Children program, which provides free vaccines to uninsured children and many others with financial barriers. For help in finding a local healthcare provider who participates in the program, parents can call 800-CDC-INFO or go to www.cdc.gov/vaccines.
The CDC has conducted the National Immunization Survey-Teen since 2006. It is similar to the standard NIS, which in 1994 began collecting immunization information among children 19 through 35 months old and is a random telephone survey of parents or care-givers, followed by verification of records with health care providers. The NIS-Teen estimates the proportion of teens aged 13 through 17 years who have received the three recommended pre-teen vaccines, as well as three of the recommended childhood vaccines, by the time they are surveyed.